EC Logo

EU Green Week 2021 - DAY 1 ROUNDUP

TIME TO ZERO IN ON A WORLD WE ALL WANT

Welcome one and all to another action-packed edition of EU Green Week. Our focus in 2021 is to plot a path to tackle pollution once and for all. How we achieve this is where the magic of EU Green Week comes in!

Pollution affects everybody through the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land that sustains us. It is the largest environmental cause of both physical and mental illness, and a major factor in the premature death of children, people with medical conditions and the elderly.

Pollution also compromises ecosystems and triggers unprecedented biodiversity loss. It’s time we acted and EU Green Week 2021 is the ideal stage – bringing different groups in society together with stakeholders and policymakers to thrash out solutions and make the ambition for a zero-pollution and toxic-free environment a reality.

High-level political debates, awards, virtual exhibitions, preview features and side-events, plus the hundreds of EU Green Week Partner activities being staged all over Europe, from mid-May to mid-June. Our Daily EU Green Week Report is here to provide a snapshot of the excitement!

Quote of the day

“Environmental pollution negatively affects our health, especially of the most vulnerable and socially deprived groups, and is also one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss. We see that pollution is an issue that Europeans care very deeply about, as an unprecedented number of partner events are taking place across Europe this year. I am convinced that this year’s Green Week will be an inspiring and mobilising success and it will show the EU’s ambition to lead global action against pollution.”

 

Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries

TODAY AROUND EUROPE

Let the festivities begin…

Festivities kicked off today with an online edition of the Green Week High-Level Opening Event dedicated to ‘Citizen science for zero pollution’ hosted by European Green Capital, Lahti in Finland. With a keynote speech from Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, it opened with a discussion on the EU Zero Pollution Action Plan, and offered fresh insights into how citizen-driven research and activities in the air, water and soil domains are working towards a zero-pollution future for Europe.

Partners for the environment

We’re happy to present a snapshot of some of the activities taking place at Partner Events across the EU and beyond, to show the creative ways that environmental issues are being dealt with and how local action can make a difference.

 

NetworkNature… viva the recovery!

An EU Green Week partner event organised today by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has shone a green-hued light on the importance of health and overall wellbeing in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Results from the related Horizon 2020 NetworkNature project were introduced during a dedicated event, ‘Joining forces for health and nature recovery’, and included a post-pandemic recovery plan, which the organisers describe as a tool to “strengthen the upscaling of nature-based solutions”.

Sessions and discussions addressed major achievements in the project and underlined the steps and actions needed to restore degraded environments and deliver positive change. “With most Europeans living in cities, nature-based solutions in urban and peri-urban areas have large potential to contribute to the well-being of urban dwellers. Simple interventions have immediate impact on citizen’s health,” said Dr Rik De Vreese of the European Forest Institute.

Courtesy: NatureNetwork

Praia Limpa… Life’s a (clean) beach!

Surfboard, umbrella, towel, picnic… all ready for a seaside trip. What a let-down when the beach is covered in washed-up waste.

Two years ago, the EU adopted new rules on single-use plastics to lead the fight against marine plastic pollution, and today has published guidelines to ensure that these new rules are correctly applied.

On the ground, the Municipality of Leiria in Portugal organised an EU Green Week partner “clean-up” event to highlight the battle with marine litter sullying the beautiful shoreline of Praia do Pedrógão. Children, parents and teachers heard what causes it and how it hurts marine life, but also what it means to society and the communities that depend on this natural resource for tourism earnings and their way of life.

Events like Praia Limpa empower young people to express themselves and ask decision-makers and industry what they’re doing to reduce marine litter.

Courtesy: Leiria Municipality

AmbiMente… Pollution in our food, untold story

EU Green Week partner events in Treviso, Italy have put the spotlight on pollution traces found in food and the implications of these on health and society. The on-line and on-site “hybrid” activities today, under the banner ‘Unpolluted food: the hidden pollution in everyday food’, were organised in collaboration with Slow Food Treviso and OltreConfin Distretto di Economia Solidale.

Participants learned about plastic and how it breaks down and enters food. The sessions explored what it takes to reach zero waste and pollution goals, as part of integrated food consumption and waste-management policies, and reflected in circular economy principles.

The impact of pollution on children’s health and the importance of farm-to-fork tracing within a diet that is also good for the environment were discussed at length. In one challenging session, called ‘One menu, two footprints’, a comparison was shown of the ‘best-case’ and ‘worst-case’ scenarios from an environmental and health perspective for the same menu. Truly eye-opening!

Som-hi Aire BCN… taking pollution to the street

The best messages are often tangible and visible. So when IDAEA – a Spanish reference centre on environmental science focused on clean drinking water and air – came up with its plan to temporarily block a Barcelona street to raise awareness about the city’s air pollution, it just made sense.

The Som-hi Aire BCN action is complemented by a round-table bringing air quality specialists together with community leaders, the city council and neighbourhood schools. During this partner event, children were encouraged to learn about air quality and pollution. Practical workshops are also planned ahead of the World Environment Day on 5 June.

Courtesy: Alejandro Rodríguez, IDAEA-CSIC

Human Exposome Network… the study of a lifetime

First coined in 2005, the ‘exposome’ describes a person’s environmental exposure over a lifetime and how this can affect their health. Our EU Green Week feature partner today, the ‘Human Exposome Network’ (HEN), is tackling this huge task. Tune into their dedicated partner event on 11 June.

HEN is a cluster of nine Horizon 2020 projects assembling 126 research groups spanning 24 countries. Together, they want to decipher the life-long impact and health risks related to multiple environmental factors (internal and external). Knowledge gained during the five-year initiative goes towards shaping cost-effective policies and preventative action to protect human health.

Take the work of the Network’s REMEDIA project, which is taking a holistic-based approach to determine the points in a person’s lifetime when intervention can prevent the onset of cardiovascular disease. Other projects in the Network plot the relationship between the ‘exposome’ and the course of lung diseases, immune system failures and disease, mental wellbeing, and more

COMING UP TOMORROW…

  • Don’t miss the EU Green Week pre-event announcing the European Week of Waste Reduction Award-winners!

  • On the digital main stage, the opening session asks everyone to imagine what it takes – the challenges and opportunities – to live in a world without pollution.

  • Tips on storytelling and tools to bring about behaviour change is one to watch in the afternoon.